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Class 3 vs. Class 4 -- What is the difference??

FAQ and threads for those just starting to hike the Colorado 14ers.
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Postby hikerguy0 » Mon Mar 19, 2007 3:53 pm

I like to call it a free solo rappel.

lol :lol:

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Postby denalibound » Mon Mar 19, 2007 4:00 pm

hikerguy0 wrote:Micheal Reardon must be part feline -- he clearly has nine lives. OK, now I'm going to get a little philosophical. :!: God bless people with climbing skills and nerves of steel like that. I wonder, though, even with the skills and the nerve, is it worth it? One breaking rock, one muscle spasm, one anything, and you get to play sky diver -- with out a chute. To me that photo speaks of perhaps something not quite right. (Here I go pissing off the whole forum) :-) I mean is that really fair to one's loved ones? Is it really sane to go unroped in that kind of exposure? It almost seems like he doesn't really believe he can die. This kind of climbing, unroped -- something tells me there's something wrong here. (maybe I'm just envious I can't climb like that) :-) Seriously, when one doesn't take the very real possiblity of one's own demise seriously, isn't there something "off?"

It's all relative. You'd be surprised at how many people think climbing a mountain like Elbert is a death defying experience. Thank god somebody invented the couch and the TV, so that people have something to do where they won't get hurt.

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Postby hikerguy0 » Mon Mar 19, 2007 4:16 pm

It's all relative. You'd be surprised at how many people think climbing a mountain like Elbert is a death defying experience.

Yes, I've run into that. I went snow shoe back packing about a week ago. When people would ask what I was doing and I would reply, I would get some strange looks.

Thank god somebody invented the couch and the TV, so that people have something to do where they won't get hurt.

lol! :lol:

For those of you thinking of pushing the envelope:
http://outside.away.com/magazine/0499/9904terminal.html

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Postby Two Headed Boy » Mon Mar 19, 2007 4:48 pm

When you can climb above the 5.13 grade 5.11 does'nt seem like much, not that I personaly would know. I do know that I can climb at the 5.11 grade and I have free soloed the Cables Route on Longs and was thinking to my self on the way up that I would have to try to fall to come off of it. So as posted before it's all relative to one's experience level, if you're experience level is 5.10 then you probably would'nt feel comfortable free soloing at 5.10. Also you should check out Michael Reardons free solo of Romantic Warrior - 9 pitches, 5.12. Crazy as hell in my eyes but probably not in his, he onsighted it also which means he had never even been to that climb before, he just cruised up to it and free soloed it.

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Postby thebeave7 » Mon Mar 19, 2007 5:27 pm

Mt Muir in Cali is simple enough class 3(if you find the route), with a bit of exposure. Though I've heard people call California ratings harder than Colorado's(dunno any better having grown up climbing in the Sierras).

mainpeak, I don't think I've ever been on class 4 where I can downclimb facing forward. If I could, then it wouldn't be class 4.

Eric

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Postby Skip Perkins » Mon Mar 19, 2007 6:51 pm

For those of you that have climbed South Maroon: Do you downclimb the entire mountain facing forward? If so, I am going to relax this summer. I don't remember downclimbing forward on the entire last 150 feet of Wetterhorn.

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Postby sdkeil » Mon Mar 19, 2007 7:23 pm

South Maroon is solidly class 3. There is only one small part, a chimney on the back side, that has a little rock climbing involved and you can definitely go down that facing forward. The rock in this area seemed fairly solid if I remember right. The hike is long, but also fun and rewarding; I think you will enjoy it a lot. In my opinion, it wasn't as technically difficult as people made it out to be, however if you let you mental judgment lapse you could be in trouble in a hurry. I think it has been echoed many places about maintaining concentrated hiking/climbing.
Ass: (noun)
a long-eared, slow, patient, sure-footed domesticated mammal, Equus asinus, related to the horse, used chiefly as a beast of burden.

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Postby MtHurd » Mon Mar 19, 2007 10:11 pm

If you have done Middle Palisade, the first part of the climb off of the Middle Palisade glacier is similar to the hardest moves on Capital. You won't find much exposure on the majority of the climb on Capital after the Knife Edge, although it is sustained scrambling which makes it more fun than a lot of the other scree climbs you find in Colorado. The Knife Edge itself is easy and in my opinion doesn't have much true exposure, as in a vertical cliff. The most exposed you will get on Capital will be dropping off of K2 onto the Knife Edge. It's pretty thrilling but not that bad technically.

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Postby mainpeak » Mon Mar 19, 2007 10:15 pm

thebeave7 wrote:
mainpeak, I don't think I've ever been on class 4 where I can downclimb facing forward. If I could, then it wouldn't be class 4.

Eric


Thats pretty much what I am saying. Class four you will usually be facing the rock on descent, and if it is sustained and/or exposed, one should probably consider being on rappel if one is even having this discussion.

But of course, no one should take what they hear on the internet with anything more than a grain of salt. Especially from a very average climber like me. It's the internet.

Anyway, I recently climbed a great 4th class ridge in the flatirons( south ridge of Der Freischutz), and I downclimbed it as well, using a combination of various positions, as many would. You are facing in to grab holds, facing forward to find foot holds, and pivoting to switch your balance. I was thinking parts of it could certainly go at class 3. There is a class 3 route next to it but I kept to the ridge most of the time. Anyway, I am again just average joe having fun and going by what the guide book tells me.

How about this, if one was to use means of descent as a guage?

Class 3 : downclimbing is much faster than rappel or belay. Most climbers downclimb.
Class 4: downclimbing is slower and more dangerous than rappel or belay. Most choose to rappel or belay if the route is sustained and/or there is exposure
Class 5 : downclimbing is slow, dangerous, and you best be tied in.

Fair?

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Postby thebeave7 » Mon Mar 19, 2007 10:40 pm

Sorry to nitpick you earlier. Everyone truly has their definition of each class/rating and what constitutes it. Also the roped vs unroped is very subjective, depending on your comfort level. I know plenty of people who think it's easier(and faster) to free solo the low 5th class stuff, but they are very comfortable with it. My personal ratings go something like this, and yes its just a personal opinion

Class 3: Hands are often required to make moves, a fall may result in injury, but rarely death. Akin to climbing a large steep flight of stairs. Class 3

Class 4: Hands are required to make progress, steep terrain, with plentiful holds. A fall will most certainly result in serious injury. Akin to climbing a ladder.Low 4th, High 4th class

Class 5: Vertical(or close to it) rock, hands and feet required, amount of holds begins to decline. Most will want to be roped, as a fall will result in serious injury if not death. The line between low 5th and high 4th is very blurry.
Last edited by thebeave7 on Mon Mar 19, 2007 10:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby hikerguy0 » Mon Mar 19, 2007 10:49 pm

Good and illustrative pics all. Thanks for taking the time to elucidate. That high fourth class photo illustrates what I think of as 4th class. The low 4th class photo almost looks like class 3 to me (sitting in my living room) although it appears to have some steep sections particularly toward the top that are clearly class 4.

All of these posts are really helping. I'm feeling pretty comfortable with taking on some class three should my plans take me there.

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Postby mainpeak » Mon Mar 19, 2007 10:58 pm

The climb I referred to is definitely more like the "low" class 4 posted by the Beav. The high class 4.... now that just looks like a beatiful climb. Personally, I might just tie in and enjoy it safely.

Thanks for sharing that though. The Sierras are amazing. I can't wait to return.

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